Japan-backed rail institute to rise on site of subway depot

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THE Japan-backed Philippine Railway Institute (PRI), which is intended to develop railway managers and technical workers, will rise on the site of the Metro Manila Subway depot in Valenzuela City, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) said in a statement.

JICA said Wednesday it signed the record of discussions with the Department of Transportation to establish the PRI, which will become the first professional body for training railway workers. It will also conduct research on the country’s railway system.

“JICA welcomes the opportunity to assist the Philippines in promoting seamless mobility and sustainable development that will benefit many Filipinos. Through this project with DoTr, Japanese experts can help train personnel and develop curriculum on railway operations and management,” JICA Senior Representative Tetsuya Yamada said in a statement.

The agreement to set up the institute covers the period between April 2018 and March 2023. Activities include the dispatch of 26 experts from Japan. The transportation department will also tap the Technical Education and Skills Authority and railway operators to develop the curriculum and train instructors at the PRI.

Prior to the signing of the deal, Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade led a delegation to the Tokyo Metro’s training center. JICA described the facility as “one of the most sophisticated human resource development centers for Japan’s railway sector.”

The Metro Manila subway project is also JICA-backed, funded by official development assistance (ODA). It is due to start construction by the third quarter of 2018.

Apart from the subway project, JICA is also extending a loan to the Philippines from the development of the $2-billion North-South Commuter Railway Project, which consists of an elevated runway that will connect Malolos, Bulacan, and Tutuban, Manila.

JICA has assisted the Philippine government in improving its institutional capacity, starting with the Philippine Rice Research Institute in the 1960s. The group has also helped build the Philippine Coast Guard, the National Maritime Polytechnic Training Center, University of the Philippines Information Technology Development Center, and the National Center for Transportation Studies. — Arra B. Francia